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tv   House Minority Leader Pelosi News Conference  CSPAN  November 30, 2018 3:39pm-4:11pm EST

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indistinguishable chatter] >> ar the photo op, house democratic leader nancy pelosi, congressman john sarbanes and incoming democratic members of the 116th congress held a press conference to talk about their legislative priorities for the new congress.
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ms. pelosi: still morning. good morning everyone. thank you for being here. it's quite an honor to be here with so many members of our freshmen class, this historic class in size, experience and enthusiasm, diversity. thank you. it has been an exciting week. i would like to say majority, ajority, majority. it has a nice ring. the people gave us a thanksgiving of hope and act upon that charge they have given us. they asked the congress to be a check and balance on the other branches of government. they are the ultimate check and balance and want to operate congress in an open way.
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transparency, so they can see what is a at hand here and see bipartisanship and that we are unifying in what we do. one of the issues that emerged on the campaign that the new class of house democrats have the priorities with the integrity of government. that is for the people agenda. lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, integrity in government. for a while now, congressman ohn sarbanes of maryland has been working on that initiative. h.r. 1 that was signed by so many, the first order of business when we come ere. it will be transformative, amplify the voice of every american so they know that their voices matter. i'm very pleased to see the ntrepreneurial spirit that our new members are bringing and ant to acknowledge that we are
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joined by representative-elect dean phillips of minnesota. mary scanlon from pennsylvania, lready sworn in. she has seniority. [laughter] ms. pelosi: andy craig from minnesota. tom malinowski of new ersey. chris pappas of new jersey. usan wild of pennsylvania. susan is already sworn in. hundreds of guests cheered you on. [laughter] ms. pelosi: they had the whole chamber to themselves. mike levin of california. i knew mike levin was from
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alifornia. and ilhan omar of minnesota. so in any case, you know what the purpose of it is to reduce the role of money, advance heir elections and one part of that is to have the voting rights act early on the agenda. we are very pleased to be ready for that with the leadership of terri sewell of alabama, whose legislation we have been advocating for a while. we will be building a record for and she will talk about that in a moment and thank her
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for her leadership. i thank john sarbanes of maryland. thank you. mr. sarbanes: good morning everybody. i want to thank the speaker-designate for giving a broad charge to our caucus. over the last few congresses but particularly over the last wo years to assemble the proposals that have been coming from members of congress to restore our democracy and make it work depen. there are a lot of people out there that feel country doesn't work for them that democracy doesn't work for them. we pulled these proposals together and it represents a broad representative package of democracy reforms that fall into three broad areas. and they are an answer to what the public is saying. he first thing you hear, let's make it easy, not hard to vote in america. it's ridiculous it is an obstacle course to get to the allot box.
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so we have to make it easier, not harder to register, to vote. people need confidence that when they exercise their franchise, the vote will be protected. there are a set of key reforms. secondly what people are saying, when you get to washington if you are going to serve the public, whether in the executive branch or legislative branch, behave yourself. ct with ethics and integrity. let's have accountability and transparency. we have a set of reforms that focus on ethics, guidelines and accountability. and the third thing you hear from the public repeatedly is when you get to washington, on't get tangled up in the money. don't work for the special interests, work for the public interests, work for us. don't represent the insiders.
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represent the american people. so there is a whole set of reforms to make our campaign finance system more transparent, to make it work better, to make it work for the people. that's it. it's pretty basic. but these are transformative reforms that we are putting forward and once in a generation opportunity to make a bold, proud declaration back to the american people that we get the it, we hear you and want to give you your voice back. this class in 2018 has that message of reform pinned to their chest. they understand that they understand this is what the public wants to see and first riority, h.r. 1. we are excited about this opportunity that is coming. nobody knows more about the promise of our democracy, the struggles behind it than terri sewell, because terri grew up in selma, alabama. she understands what's at stake here. terri sewell. ms. sewell: i want to thank our leader for her leadership and the efforts to bring more democratic reforms to the american people and i want to thank my colleague from maryland for his leadership on
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h.r. 1. we are here today to make a promise to the american people. in the 116th congress, our first order of business is giving democracy back to the american people. starting work on day one to restore the voting rights act of 1965. that means passing legislation to end partisan gerrymandering, reform our campaign finance systems and strengthen ethics reform. we saw american voters in state after state speak with one voice, demanding reforms that make it easier to vote, not harder. the voting rights advancement act does that, by restoring rotections for voters in states with a history of discrimination. we believe that no matter state you live in, whether you are a democrat or a republican, you
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should have a fair voice in our elections. your vote is your voice. as the daughter of selma, alabama, i look forward to welcoming congressman john lewis, a delegation of bipartisan delegation to the pilgrimage this year to selma, alabama to walk across that bridge one more time. this time, we hope and march when we go that we will have delivered a democratic reform package that will do just that, deliver the voice of the people back to the people. before we head to selma to march across that bridge on another anniversary, 54th anniversary, we are promising ction on democracy reform. i thank my colleague john sarbanes and my democratic leader, nancy pelosi, and i want to welcome the class of 2018, the majority makers to congress.
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thank you very much. mr. sarbanes: we have dean phillips who is speaking next. i had the chance to be with dean in minnesota. we did a powerful town hall. he understands what we are talking about here. mr. phillips: i took congressman sarbanes to the minnesota state fair. everything on a stick. now we need campaign finance reform on a stick. representation begins with listening and everybody on this stage and my new colleagues i have been doing just that for the last number of months listening to every corner of the country and there is a voice that is unison and time to tackle the culture of corruption and elevate the ommon interests over special
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interests and return to a government that is of the people, by the people and for he people. that's what people want. that's why we are here and that will be our first order of business beginning on day one amongst my freshman colleagues and i hope everyone in this entire congress. r. sarbanes: my new colleague, veronica escobar. ms. escobar: i want to thank leader pelosi and congressman sarbanes for their incredible work during one of the most tumultuous times in american history and preparing a bold, ambitious package for new members to vote on day one. we are the new members are
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coming hot off the campaign trail and i can tell you in my community, i heard very loudly, very clearly that americans want bold proposals that are going to help everyone. they want health care, affordable health care and access for everyone. they want great jobs and an economy that works for everyone. they want comprehensive immigration reform that is done in a just and humane way. they want us to take care of the planet and have a planet for future generations. but if we are going to accomplish the bold inspirational things that everybody wants in america, what we heard from our constituents about, we have to have a government that they can trust. and this is the first step to building a government that they can trust, a government that they know is not ruled by dark money, a government where they
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know there is one vote for every person regardless of interests that might be happening behind the scenes, that we can have elections that we can trust. as i'm very grateful that we as new members have the opportunity to vote on this right out of the gate. once we do, once we pass this, we can get on to tackling all of the big-picture issues that the american public expects us to tackle. thank you. and i would like to introduce congresswoman scanlon. ms. scanlon: thank you nancy pelosi and your commitment for restoring faith in our democratic institutions. i'm so excited to be able to participate in h.r. 1. our elections is a bedrock of our democracy. and during this election cycle the american people pledged us to make sure that our government works for them. they put their trust in the members of our incoming congressional delegation to champion our uniquely american creed where we are a government of, by and for the people. .r. 1 is our commitment to that trust.
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this reform package will present -- will help people, including seniors, communities of color, college students and low-income families but it's up to us. my home state of pennsylvania has been a prime example of the rise of modern-day voter suppression. extreme gerrymandering, strict i.d. laws and absentee deadlines. i thank you for making this the top priority for the 116th congress. as one of the first members to be sworn in, i'm proud to stand with my current and future colleagues today in support of h.r. 1 and to the american people, we have heard you. our caucus is eager to restore the democracy and give you the government you deserve. and that work is starting
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now. thank you. mr. sarbanes: again, thank you for being here. i thank our class of 2018 again and the couple who got here a little bit sooner, for your incredible advocacy on this point. we have been working on the democracy task force for a couple of years and even prior to that. speaker-designate pelosi had made it clear that she wanted to reach out to the country to the people and certainly to our members and get that input as to what we needed to do to restore our democracy. and so we have been toiling away in the salt mines to put together a strong bold package and did it just in time, because the class of 2018 is arriving telling us this is exactly the statement, the package we need to take back to our constituents, our new constituents, the people who ent us here.
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we are proud of this effort and e are going to work as hard as we can to move it quickly and boldly. and i thank speaker-designate for all the support she has given to this effort and leadership. ms. pelosi: thank you, congressman sarbanes, for your extraordinary leadership. to put this in a perspective, when i first became whip, the first bill i acted upon was to work with senator mccain to pass campaign reform, mccain-feingold. we had a discharge petition that wasn't moving. republicans were in power. e got the job done and we were ery proud of that of getting rid of all kinds of corporate money and the rest. the special interests found ways. and now here we are again at a time when we are in the majority invigorated by this
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outstanding reform-minded caucus to come forward with h.r. 1 and we will be addressing by some of their additional ideas to act upon this legislation. we have seen strong consensus as we go forward and part of that to pass the voting rights act, long overdue. built a record and so this is xciting. this is transformative occasion. this historic class of freshmen is going to make not only a difference in the congress but the entire country and we see the interaction with the public that when they trust you on this issue as john sarbanes said, they trust you on other issues as well. and that confidence is what our democracy is all about.
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if you have any difficult questions to new -- the new members have not spoken. [laughter] they volunteered to take whatever you may say. reporter: you talked about your legislative agenda. when you talk to your new members, which investigations do they want you to prioritize? r do they worry that investigations could overshadow the message -- ms. pelosi: perhaps we should hear from a freshman on that point. ms. escobar: i can tell you that two priorities for my district are the separation of families on the u.s.-mexico border. el paso, texas was the testing round. we found out a year later for president trump's policy of separating families. there are still children who are separated from their
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parents. we have seen child detention grow. we have learned recently that he president waived f.b.i. background checks that is in el paso county. number two, puerto rico, puerto ricans are still without the federal funding that was allocated that would rebuild their lives and those are the two that would be priorities for me. reporter: would that be on day one? ms. escobar: yes. but again, i'm a new member. i know my place. [laughter] ms. pelosi: we have a committee system and everything goes through the committee. and when the legislation was ready, but h.r. 1 -- did you speak on that? >> there has been a lot of discussion on investigating versus legislating and that sometimes is a false choice.
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my constituents want us to legislate and get things done. the package that you just heard described is in many ways a response to the lessons of what we already know happened in the 2016 election. because what we learned was that our lax rules against corruption and campaign finance rules in addition to allowing things that were wrong were a national security vulnerability and enabled some of the foreign interference that we already know without further nvestigation took place. this is in part in response to demands of the freshman class this is in part in response to demands of the freshman class and others to start doing something about what we already happened. ms. pelosi: the american people want us to address their he bread and butter, kitchen table issues. lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, integrity in
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government and that's what we are here to do. the committees of jurisdiction will determine how they proceed. but make no mistake, oversight is a congressional esponsibility. the administration may say oversight is investigation. oversight is our responsibility. article 1, first branch of government, a check on the other two. the preamble to the constitution. so we will honor our responsibility. indiscernible] >> i would like to hear from the new members that the president is signing off on this agreement with mexico and canada which seems to be questions about whether you will get it through and democrats are concerned from lgbt issues to working wages. how is that going to play out in he new congress?
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ms. pelosi: i will yield to our freshmen members but just to say the following. whatever they are calling it now -- [indiscernible] ms. pelosi: the trade agreement formerly known as nafta is a ork in progress. we are admiring of the trade representative in an attempt to make sure we are aware what was in it. what wasn't in it is enough reinforcements regarding provisions that relate to workers and to the environment. there also has not been a law passed in mexico in terms of wages and working conditions in mexico. when all of that happens, people will make a judgment whether they will be supporting it. this is not something that where we have a piece of paper where we can say yes or no to. any of my colleagues here?
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>> i think it's fair to say, we want to raise all the boats in this country, ensure that middle-income americans have more money to spend and businesses in our country have access to foreign markets. absent that, we are all in trouble. absent that, those are our priorities. we should have fair trade and free trade. that's what my district demands. mr. levin: mike levin from california's 49th. my district is in san diego and orange county, cross-border trade is extremely important tour district. the president has taken a relationship with mexico and canada to the brink. and while we don't know the full details, but it resembles what was there before. a lot of this is for show.
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s an environmental advocate, i will be looking at the worker protections and environmental protections and until we have some details, we can't make an educated decision. i look forward to those details as do my fresh men colleagues do. mr. pappas: chris pappas from new hampshire. what is wonderful, we are close to the ground and these are so essential to make sure that congress is always embodying and reflecting and translating the voices of the people of this country. in my district, we benefit from international trade, particularly with canada. and which are always well served by calm and sober talks and respecting the businesses in our country, the workers and the environment. we need to see the details of these agreements. but i think the sort haphazard policies is not well-serving and we are well served by common, sober talks.
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reporter: back on oversight. in light of the michael cohen major revelations yesterday, what would you like to see come january for your committees and trump's potential business ealings with russia? ms. pelosi: that will be up to the committees. our focus is on showing results for america's families. we need to lower health care costs raising their paychecks and giving them confidence that their voices are heard in washington d d.c. our committees will honor their responsibilities as we go forward but i'm not putting forth an agenda of that kind. does anybody want to speak to that? yes, sir. reporter: you designated that for part of the symbolic of that and republicans on the other
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side and white house, how should we look at what you are doing here. is it symbolic that the democrats will do or do you think you could get republicans in the senate and president on the united states on board? ms. pelosi: our best friend in this debate is the public. president lincoln said public sentiment is everything. and you can accomplish almost othing without it. and h.r. 1 agenda going forward, we believe that it will have great support and that message won't be lost on the senate or on the president of the united tates. anyone want to speak to that? >> a lot of us who supported this ran in districts where we have to get republican support to be here. and i can tell you, i did not
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meet a single republican voter who thought it was a good idea that our laws allow say, a foreign government, to channel money through nonprofit organizations to a super pac in the united states to influence the outcome of this election. this is bipartisan when it comes to the american people. will it be bipartisan when it comes to the united states senate? and that's up to them to decide. mr. sarbanes: h.r. 1 is not being built for mitch mcconnell. it's being build as the speaker-designate said and the congressman just said, it is being built for the american people. this class has told us that this is what the people want to see. we are building that package for them. but folks from across the political spectrum are demanding it.
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not just democrats, but independents and republicans. if you put that forward, you create political pressure that says every member of congress regardless of which side of the aisle, you need to step up and support restoring our democracy. there can be some very productive results for this and potentially bipartisan results. that's what you get with a owerful strong statement right out of the gate. that is the strategy of making this h.r. 1 and setting the table on this conversation. >> i would like to add, the representative of pennsylvania's 15th, but as of january 1, it will be pennsylvania 7th, the greater lehigh valley area and it's an area that is made up of very much of working families and the issues, all of the questions that have come up today are very, very pertinent o my district. but what i have heard the most from people is that they want
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their voices to be heard. and so the questions about investigations and trade and that kind of thing, as leader pelosi said, public sentiment is everything. and the people i have spoken to for the last year-plus, have all been concerned that their voice through their vote didn't matter because of the influence of dark money and outside interests. and i think that having h.r. 1 be our first bill that is introduced will very much set the tone for whether the public believes that there will will be done. and i think that this is the right message to send so the public so they understand that what we want to do going forward, whether it's an issue of trade, investigation, immigration or anything else that we will be paying attention to the american people. and i think that's the real important thing about why this is being done first.
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>> throughout i think the last two years, we have heard people ay they didn't just want to be part of a resistance they wanted to embrace a set of values. remember that accessibility, transparency and the trust of the public is the cornerstone of our democracy. what our voters were interested in and what we have heard from the american public, they didn't want us to be here to resist and work on oversight but wanted to make sure we are insisting on a set of values. for us, it is a priority to make sure that we are restoring hope in our democracy that we are reshaping our government to make sure it works for people and that we are re-energizing the american public to again believe in a system that was build for them and can be transformed by them as well. we are excited to get to work
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and make sure that the words we said on the campaign trail transform into legislation that ill transform our government and our democracy. >> could you talk about the historic nature of women in congress now. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] host: jerfer


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